SALT LAKE CITY — Kamaru Usman is already being asked about Khamzat Chimaev as a future contender. He has bandied about the idea of moving up two divisions to light heavyweight and challenging for that title. UFC president Dana White wants to put Usman in the greatest of all time conversation.
But before all of these potentially historic things can come to fruition, Usman has work to do. On Saturday, MMA’s pound-for-pound king will defend his UFC welterweight title against Leon Edwards in the main event of UFC 278 at Vivint Arena.
ESPN has Usman ranked No. 1 in the world at welterweight. Edwards is No. 4. The two have met before — and it was the last time Edwards has lost: December 2015, via unanimous decision.
Usman (20-1) is on a 15-fight UFC winning streak, one victory short of tying Anderson Silva’s record of 16. The Nigerian-born fighter, who trains out of Colorado, has been UFC welterweight champion since beating Tyron Woodley at UFC 235 in March 2019. Usman, 35, has five successful welterweight title defenses.
Edwards (19-3, 1 NC) is unbeaten in 10 straight fights over nearly seven years. The Jamaica-born resident of England has not fought since a unanimous decision win over Nate Diaz at UFC 263 in May 2021. Edwards, 30, has an 11-2, 1 NC record in the UFC.
In the co-main event, former UFC middleweight champion Luke Rockhold meets former title challenger Paulo Costa. Rockhold (16-5), a 37-year-old California native, has not fought since 2019 and has just one win since beating Chris Weidman for the title in 2015. Costa (13-2), a 31-year-old Brazilian slugger, has dropped two straight, including a second-round TKO loss to middleweight champion Israel Adesanya at UFC 253 in September 2020.
Also on the card, former UFC featherweight champion Jose Aldo will take on the surging Merab Dvalishvili at bantamweight, Marcin Tybura meets Alexander Romanov in a heavyweight contender bout and popular Aussie light heavyweight Tyson Pedro faces Harry Hunsucker.
Follow along as Brett Okamoto, Marc Raimondi and Jeff Wagenheim recap the action as it happens or watch the fights on ESPN+ PPV.
Up next: Men’s bantamweight: Aoriqileng (19-9, 1-2 UFC, -140) vs. Jay Perrin (10-5, 0-1 UFC, +120)
Results: Men’s flyweight: Victor Altamirano (11-2, 1-1 UFC) def. Daniel Da Silva (11-4, 0-3 UFC) by first-round TKO
Two fighters chasing their first UFC victory wasted no time in getting after it. Both came out swinging, and Da Silva landed the first impactful blow, a right hand that dropped Altamirano and had him in trouble in the opening minute. But Altamirano got up and kept coming forward, and after a knee to the body put Da Silva on the canvas, the Mexican swarmed with a barrage of elbows that finished the job at 3:39 of the first round.
Altamirano, a 31-year-old from Mexico City who trains in Fort Worth, Texas, had to withstand the early assault, but once he had the fight going his way, he was relentless in winning for the fifth time in his last six bouts. He lost his UFC debut in February.
Da Silva, who is 26 and from Brazil, looked like the sharper fighter at the start, knocking down his opponent and nearly connecting with spinning attacks. But once he was on his back, he made the mistake of trying for submissions rather than defending against the elbows that opened up a cut on his face and ended the fight. He has lost all three of his UFC bouts.
Still to come:
Welterweight championship: Kamaru Usman (c) (20-1, 15-0 UFC, -400) vs. Leon Edwards (19-3 1 NC, 11-2 1 NC UFC, +310)
Middleweight: Paulo Costa (13-2, 5-2 UFC, -370) vs. Luke Rockhold (16-5, 6-4 UFC, +290)
Men’s bantamweight: Jose Aldo (31-7, 13-6 UFC, +120) vs. Merab Dvalishvili (14-4, 7-2 UFC, -140)
Women’s bantamweight: Wu Yanan (12-5, 1-4 UFC, +100) vs. Lucie Pudilová (13-7, 2-5 UFC, -120)
Light heavyweight: Tyson Pedro (83-, 4-3 UFC, -800) vs. Harry Hunsucker (7-5, 0-2 UFC, +550)
Heavyweight: Marcin Tybura (22-7, 9-6 UFC, +300) vs. Alexandr Romanov (16-0, 5-0 UFC, -380)
Lightweight: Leonardo Santos (18-6-1, 7-2-1 UFC, +240) vs. Jared Gordon (18-5, 6-4 UFC, -300)
Men’s featherweight: Sean Woodson (9-1, 3-1 UFC, -340) vs. Luis Saldaña (16-7, 2-1 UFC, +270)
Welterweight: AJ Fletcher (9-1, 0-1 UFC, -160) vs. Ange Loosa (8-3, 0-1 UFC, +135)
Men’s flyweight: Francisco Figueiredo (13-4-1, 2-1 UFC, +360) vs. Amir Albazi (14-1, 2-0 UFC, -470)
(c) = defending champion
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